County approves fee in lieu for “Project Mystery Green”

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Duke Energy/Lee Steam

By Stan Welch

Tuesday night, Anderson County Council, led by District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, revisited a number of comments and remarks made by District Two Councilwoman Gracie Floyd at a recent meeting.

Wilson began her presentation by replaying a portion of the audio recording of the earlier meeting during which Floyd went into a long rant about how certain members of the Council overstep their authority. Her remarks also centered on when the Council was going to hire a full time administrator, instead of continuing to employ Rusty Burns as its ‘interim’ administrator.

Burns has continued to insist on that title, despite the fact that he has held the position since 2009. Floyd continuously referred to the various powers and responsibilities of the Council and the administrator under the administrator/Council form of government. However, as Wilson pointed out at both meetings, Anderson County does not use the administrator/Council form of government.

In fact, under the provisions of the Home Rule Act, such a form of government does not exist in South Carolina. The form of government used by Anderson County is the Council/administrator form of government. Under that form, the Council is the ultimate authority, although the delineation of powers is quite clear.

The elected Council is charged with providing the overall direction of the County, while the administrator is expected to oversee and administer the day to day operations of the County staff and personnel. One example of the distinction would be the administrator’s responsibility to present an annual budget, while the Council would have the power to approve or deny that budget.

In recent years, the issue of micromanagement by the Council has been raised periodically. Floyd raised it again Tuesday night, citing a number of minor issues in which the Council has involved itself.

Nevertheless, it was clear by Floyd’s response to Wilson’s challenge Tuesday night that, even if she isn’t actually confused as to the form of government she serves in, she has a very different interpretation of that form’s demands and requirements.

She cited many of the same sections of the Home Rule Act to buttress her arguments that Wilson cited to support hers.

Floyd’s performance Tuesday night continued to puzzle observers as the Council moved into the portion of the agenda involving third reading, or final, approval of several ordinances. The ordinances in question were written to allow for the issuance of bonds by the County for several uses.

All ordinances had previously received two preliminary approvals, but Councilman Francis Crowder offered amendments which would complete the ordinances by supplying the final terms, such as interest rates and terms of maturity for the bonds. Such information will only become available once the lending institutions bidding on the proposed bonds make their bids official.

Crowder’s amendment would require final approval of the completed ordinances by the full Council. In offering the amendment, Crowder referred to the redline version; i.e., the version including the new language, traditionally provided in red type to make it more easily seen. However, since the Clerk to Council either doesn’t have or doesn’t use a color printer, the redline version is instead labeled as such at the top of the page.

Floyd spent nearly ten minutes trying to find the redline version, and complaining stridently that it was not included in her information packet. She so exasperated the Council, and Chairman Dunn in particular that he tossed his glasses onto the counter and stalked to Floyd’s position to help her find it. Once she did, she proudly waved the document in the air, declaring loudly, “You see. I told you there was no red line on my copy.”

The three proposed ordinances, which will authorize the issuance of three different types of bonds, totaling approximately $11.5 million, were eventually approved.

The Council also gave first reading approval for a fee in lieu of taxes agreement to be offered to Project Mystery Green, which is the current appellation of the proposed Duke Energy upgrade of the Lee Steam Plant.